Daily Archives: November 9, 2017

About those video ads…

I brought your complaints to the attention of a very supportive um… support guy at WordPress who has taken steps to do away with those ads that have been bothering so many of you lately.

Please let me know in the comments if his efforts have worked.

By the way, the folks at WordPress are great.


Filed under GTP Stuff

Everybody’s AD sucks.

And here I thought Jeff Long was a genius.

University of Arkansas trustees have met in executive session but taken no action against Athletic Director Jeff Long or Head Football Coach Bret Bielema.

The UA trustees had gone into a closed-door executive session starting at 8:45 a.m. Thursday and came out shortly after noon having taken no action.

We had been told before the meeting that some of the trustees have not been happy with the direction of the athletic program, especially the football team. Many fans and supporters have been restless over the disappointing football season and the team’s lack of success with a 4-5 record so far this season.

Another place where the natives appear to be getting restless, which can only be good news for Jimmy Sexton.



UPDATE:  A hero for our time emerges.

Tuberville, who joined me on The Opening Kickoff on WNSP-FM 105.5 on Thursday, was asked if he would be interested in the Auburn’s athletic director position.

“I would love to help Auburn’s athletic program,” Tuberville said. “I don’t think there’s anyone more qualified than me. I know it. I know the people. I know the boosters, the alumni. I know the city, the community. I would love to talk to the president, whether I am a candidate or whether I can help.”

On the bright side, if he got the gig, at least we wouldn’t have to listen to him mail it in any more on ESPN.


Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal

Somebody didn’t get the Fromm memo.

Bill Connelly:

It takes a good defense to slow the Dawgs. Georgia’s offense is most regarded for its terrifying stable of running backs, but freshman quarterback Jake Fromm’s ability to dig out of holes has been vital. The Dawgs rank 18th in Standard Downs S&P+ but seventh in Passing Downs S&P+; on third down with four or more yards to go, Fromm is 29-for-47 for 499 yards, eight touchdowns, three picks, and a 194.3 passer rating. As a freshman.  [Emphasis added.]

Gus Malzahn:

“They’re pretty efficient when they throw it, too,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said this week.

Malzahn is impressed of what he’s seen of first-year quarterback Jake Fromm this season. Fromm is 95 of 150 (63 percent) for 1,459 yards with 15 touchdowns to four interceptions…

Malzahn credits Fromm for helping boost Georgia’s No.1 red zone offense (offense scored 97 percent of the time inside the 25-yard line) and strong third-down conversion rate (51.2 percent). The former 5-star quarterback has at least one passing touchdown in each of Georgia’s nine games.

“He’s been on the money on some of those throws, specifically in the red zone, and been very accurate,” Malzahn said.

And even though Trigga Tray used the “s” word, he didn’t mean it in a derogatory sense.

“He has a real solid arm,” Matthews said. “He has some pretty good accuracy. He loves the quick slants and stuff like that. You know, he’s a very talented guy. He loves ball.”

Clearly, we have some folks who need to get with the program.


Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in stat porn

You’ll notice both of these data points have two things in common…

… Georgia’s presence and Auburn’s absence.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Mike Hamilton’s big favor to the SEC East

My goodness, what a dumb decision:

Patterson, who was just two years removed from winning the Rose Bowl back then, wasn’t interested in going into details, but acknowledged that he’s talked with high-profile schools in the past. He interviewed with Nebraska in 2008, when the Huskers hired Bo Pelini, and also interviewed with Tennessee in 2009 after Phillip Fulmer was fired and the Vols hired Lane Kiffin.

“Tennessee didn’t think I could handle the big stage,” Patterson said. “My wife and I went to dinner with them, and I could tell they had already decided on Kiffin. It was the same with Nebraska. I interviewed and could tell they had already decided on Pelini. I think a lot of these ADs now are more interesting in hiring guys who’re going to win the podium than they are in hiring football coaches, and there’s a lot more to it than that if you’re going to win championships.”

Patterson smiled when asked if he would have taken either the Tennessee or Nebraska job had he been offered.

“It’s sort of like the old Garth Brooks song. Sometimes the best prayers are unanswered prayers,” Patterson said.

Junior over Patterson?  Jeebus.  Just think about how things might have gone over the past decade if Hamilton weren’t such an incompetent idiot.

A grateful Dawgnation thanks you, Mike.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

The same old song: run the ball and stop the run

I made a little fun of Auburn’s defensive tackle the other day for the way he described the task at hand, but at heart, he’s right:  if the Tigers can’t slow Georgia’s running game down, it’s going to be a long day for the home team.

To its credit, Auburn’s done a good job defending the run this season.  Texas A&M averaged 4.21 yards per carry and that’s the best any opponent has managed this season.  By comparison, Georgia’s defense has yielded a higher average in three games.  Common opponents are a mixed bag:  Mississippi State did better against Georgia on the ground, but Missouri was better against the Tigers.

The difference in the game, at least with regard to how successful both teams are running the ball, may be depth.  Georgia is in far better shape, with all five backs healthy and contributing.  Auburn can’t really compare there.

Auburn has worn down its share of opponents the past couple of seasons with Johnson and Pettway, but the two were never at full strength at the same time this year. Pettway, a 6-foot, 235-pounder, led the SEC last season with 124.8 yards a game but missed three contests due to injury, including the 13-7 loss at Georgia.

Pettway already had missed three games this year before the Oct. 21 trip to Arkansas, where he rushed 11 times for 90 yards and three touchdowns before sustaining the season-ending setback.

The 6-foot, 212-pound Johnson has rushed for 868 yards this season, with a whopping 704 coming in the last four games. He is coming off a 29-carry, 145-yard performance in last week’s 42-27 win at Texas A&M, and he also had five receptions for 29 yards.

“KJ is one of our best players, and you can see it in the way he plays,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday in his weekly news conference. “He is a physical runner and a very smart player. In that fourth quarter, he just willed his way, and the special ones have that.

“He’s definitely in that category of the special running backs we’ve had here.”

Johnson has been a touchdown machine this season, reaching the end zone 15 times as a rusher and once as a receiver. Yet his 150 rushes the past six games is more than Chubb’s 140 through nine contests.

Auburn’s backup running back now is sophomore Kam Martin, who has 46 rushes for 310 yards (6.7 per carry) this season. Martin amassed 136 of those yards in the 41-7 opening win over Georgia Southern.

If it’s a slugfest, I know who’s going to have the fresher running backs in the fourth quarter.

Of course, a running game isn’t solely dependent on the backfield.  The offensive line has a definite role to play.  That doesn’t favor Auburn either.  Georgia’s line has been together on the field, with minor exceptions, since the season’s third game.  Auburn’s been juggling starters all season because of injury issues.  Those sound like they’ll likely continue Saturday.

Injured Auburn offensive linemen Mike Horton and Darius James are expected to return to practice Tuesday, but their status for Saturday’s rendition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry remains to be seen.

Horton (ankle) and James (leg) both started against Texas A&M before exiting early in the game due to lingering effects from their injuries, which they sustained weeks earlier.

“Everybody, we’re expecting to practice today,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We may not know exactly what they means, who’s going to start and all that, until we get to Thursday or Friday. I know the two we had to pull out in the game, I know they’re great competitors. I know they want to play this week.

“They’re going to do everything in their power to do that, but we’ll just see where that goes.”

Not exactly the voice of optimism there.  If those two can’t go, that would make for the sixth different starting lineup Auburn has fielded along the offensive line this season, although to be fair, the line played pretty well against TAMU after they went out.  (Although it’s worth mentioning that the Aggies haven’t been as good stopping the run this season as Georgia has.)

If it’s a race to make the other guy one-dimensional, then, you have to say circumstances favor the Dawgs.  And that’s definitely the goal.

Like any team, Georgia’s primary focus will be to stop the run since that’s what Auburn primarily wants to have success with. And when Georgia can slow the run down and force a team into throwing the ball more than it would like, it has generally fared well with its outcome.

Nationally, Georgia ranks fifth in rush defense by allowing only 89 yards on the ground per game. In games where Georgia held its opponent to less than 100 rushing yards, it forced teams into a completion percentage of only 57.7. Three teams have run for over 100 yards against Georgia this season – Appalachian State (136), Mississippi State (177) and Florida (183). Yet in those games, the opposition has only have completed only 51 percent of its passes for an average of 105.7 yards.

Point is, Georgia has taken at least one aspect away from every offense it has faced.

Inside linebacker Roquan Smith said Georgia will do its part to limit Johnson and the Auburn rushing attack first.

“We just have to make those guys one dimensional,” Smith said. “If we stop the run, we make you one dimensional and you have to put it in the air. I think (Johnson’s) an awesome runner. He runs with his pads down. He’s a great guy, he leads the SEC in rushing (touchdowns). He’ll be a great challenge for our defense.”

I don’t think there are any great secrets about what Georgia needs to do on defense — maintain containment on the edge, force the runs back to the inside and keep Stidham from burning the secondary on deep passes.  That won’t be an easy task, as Auburn is the SEC leader in plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage in conference play.  Georgia’s been excellent at stopping those kinds of gains, though.

It’s gonna be a real test of will imposing.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

When the eye test isn’t enough

Believe it or not, I get this.

But who is playing better ball right now, Alabama or Georgia?

“The only question I have about both teams is their schedule,” Danielson said. “The SEC East is just a hot mess. If you look at Georgia’s schedule closely, you got Notre Dame and who else?

“The same for Alabama.”

Yeah, he makes his point rather inartfully — that Notre Dame win is kind of a big deal, Gary — but he’s saying that he doesn’t have enough to judge either team on because he likes to rely on a difficult schedule to make evaluations.  Saying that he doesn’t have the kind of data he needs to validate a team fully isn’t the same thing as saying a team isn’t good because it hasn’t played a quality schedule, a call I’ve seen plenty of pundits make.

That being said, because the selection committee has made strength of schedule a factor in its determinations, it can’t be ignored.  And that’s where things get a wee bit interesting.

Start with Sagarin.  He has Alabama number one and Georgia at three, despite fairly meh strength of schedule numbers.  Both are closer to Washington and Wisconsin in that regard than to Clemson, Notre Dame and Penn State.  What’s made the difference is that neither of the SEC schools have lost and both have gone through their schedules convincingly, a point Brian Fremeau confirms.

On Tuesday night, for instance, I posted the total point differential teams have accumulated against opponents ranked in the latest CFP committee top 25 rankings. Notre Dame stands head and shoulders above every other team by this measure, having racked up a +75-point margin in four games against currently ranked playoff teams (a one-point loss to Georgia, a 35-point win over USC, a 20-point win over Michigan State, and a 21-point win over North Carolina State). The next best cumulative margin (+29) belongs to both Georgia (in two games) and Clemson (in three games). Alabama is further down the list at +14, a single 24-10 victory over LSU.

Cumulative scoring margin will naturally favor a team that has more opportunities, whereas average scoring margin will tell a different one. Notre Dame has a +18.8 points per game margin against the CFP top 25; Georgia is at +14.5; Alabama is at +14.0; and Clemson is at +9.7. That’s still a selective list, of course, since all games against the subset of teams are given equal footing whether the opponents were in the top five or barely ranked in the top 25. And games against opponents that might be good but are just outside the CFP top-25 subset are ignored altogether. Both the cumulative and per-game data sets tell a story, but neither one does a great job of telling the entire, more complex story of the season to date.

One of the drivers that led me to run the numbers on cumulative scoring margin in the first place was an exploration of dominance. The playoff selection committee has used “game control” language in describing how teams have impressed or not impressed in the past, and that language has stuck with me. Our colleagues at ESPN maintain a metric they call Game Control, defined as the chance an average top-25 team would control games from start to end the way the given team did, given the schedule. They don’t further define what control of games from start to end necessarily means, but it likely has something to do with the in-game win probabilities a given team has over the course of its games.

Another way to evaluate how a team maintains control in a given game is to simply calculate how often it takes a lead, maintains a lead, and grows a lead in a given game. Victory, even by a narrow margin, is the primary goal for every team, but teams are more likely to be consistently victorious if they rarely trail, and frequently play with a multiple-score lead.

Alabama leads the nation in average scoring margin, outscoring their opponents by 26.0 points per game in non-garbage time. The Crimson Tide have had the lead on their opponent on 86.7 percent of their non-garbage possessions, also best in the nation. They have only trailed on 1.1 percent of their non-garbage possessions. They have never trailed by more than a single score this year. They have led by at least three scores (17-point margin or better) on 35.0 percent of non-garbage possessions, and by four scores (25-point margin or better) on 14.4 percent of non-garbage possessions. They’ve epitomized consistent dominance unlike any other team this season.

Contrast the Crimson Tide with another undefeated team, the Miami Hurricanes. Miami’s average margin of victory this year is 10.9 points per game in non-garbage time. They have trailed their opponent on 22.8 percent of their non-garbage possessions this season. They have led by 17 or more points on only 2.8 percent of non-garbage possessions, and haven’t led by 25 or more points at all this year in non-garbage time (or at all, for that matter, against FBS competition).

All of this is likely to be something of a moot point, anyway.  ESPN’s FPI ranks Georgia’s remaining SOS at ninth and Alabama’s 32nd.  Beyond that, assuming they’ll face off against each other in the SECCG, their schedule strengths will be boosted further.

Nothing much to see here, in other words.  Besides, both teams look pretty damned good to me.


Filed under Alabama, BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football

“But as I got older, I realized how important our pets were to so many people.”

Great quote in this ESPN story about some of college football’s iconic live mascots:

… No matter the cause, whenever a Uga finally departs this mortal coil, he makes one final fancy trip to Athens, to rest for eternity inside a mausoleum by Gate 9 of Sanford Stadium.

“Those funerals are like something you’d see from the memorial service of some head of state,” says former head coach Mark Richt, who buried three Ugas during his time at Georgia. “And that’s exactly how it should be.”

DGDs, every one.


Filed under Georgia Football

Time flies.

Well, at least in the sense that it takes some pressure off making further accommodations to the SEC’s broadcast partners that might compromise our enjoyment of the game, Steve Shaw delivered some good news.

Game length:

  • 3 hours, 19 minutes
  • 3 hours, 26 minutes last year.

Shaw said it is a good trend and says the 20-minute halftime, replay time and the mechanics of the game, such as workings with TV partners and officials keeping the game moving, have contributed to the trend.

He added there have been two SEC games under three hours, but no game has gone more than four hours.

Hmmm… wonder what that “working with TV partners” is all about.  Anyway, I’ll take whatever little victories I can get here.


Filed under SEC Football

Jake the snowflake

Ten games into the schedule, you’d think the hoary “they’re no longer true freshmen” observation would apply to Georgia’s starting quarterback, but evidently not so much.

Here’s what one Auburn-oriented pundit has to say about Fromm’s first visit to the Plains:

Georgia’s offensive line has done quite well this season, but Auburn’s pass rush against a freshman quarterback making his first start in a large, truly hostile road environment ― UGA’s takeover of South Bend doesn’t really count to me ― should be huge.

Did I miss something, or did Fromm make the trip to Knoxville?  The reason that hostile crowd wasn’t a factor was because Georgia’s play took them out of the game.  I’m not making any predictions here, but I’ve been to Auburn games when the exact same thing happened.

Not to mention that the last time Georgia started a true freshman quarterback at Auburn, he didn’t seem very intimidated.

Then there’s our old friend Kirk Herbstreit, who’s not saying that he has doubts, just saying he has doubts.  (“He added that we haven’t seen Fromm tested in a big way yet.”)  “Nothing personal”, though, which is nice.

Again, previous performance is no guarantee of future success, but I don’t see how you can look at what Fromm’s done so far and pretend he’s a blank slate.  True, Georgia’s running game has carried the brunt of the load all season, but there have been times when the Dawgs have needed their quarterback to step up, starting with the winning drive in South Bend, and he’s invariably done so like a champ.

I honestly don’t get how you can look at a stat like this and believe he’s going to have a problem dealing with pressure.

Meanwhile, Kirby keeps chopping wood.

“Crank up the noise. Crank it up and get him used to it,” Smart said on the SEC coaches teleconference. “We just can’t put so much on his plate to where he can’t communicate.”

Fromm has led Georgia to an unbeaten record and has tossed 15 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions while averaging 9.7 yards per attempt. He had his first 300-yard passing game against Missouri. After a Florida game where he wasn’t asked to do much, Fromm had an efficient outing against South Carolina, completing 16 of 22 passes and two touchdowns in a 24-10 win.

Smart was also asked how the coaches have handled adding things for Fromm over the course of the season. Smart gave a somewhat surprising answer.

“We really haven’t added much. All along we’ve felt like he’s a bright kid,” he said. “One place he’s shown the most growth is making decisions. Run-pass decisions, to eat the ball and throw it away.”

One thing I expect from Georgia Saturday is a lot of RPO stuff.  Fromm has excelled at it, in large part because it plays to his strengths.  Given how Auburn’s made a living off RPO plays, I’m kind of looking forward to Gus getting a taste of his own medicine.


Filed under Georgia Football